Monday, February 20, 2012

Headlines - Monday February 20

Super-Christian™ Rick Santorum is the least charitable presidential candidate, this is empirically true, CNN has the data:
From 2007 to 2009, Santorum's rate of charitable giving fluctuated between 2.03% and 2.67% of his earnings.
In 2010, the rate dropped to 1.76% of his $923,411 in income. That same year, President Obama gave 14.2% of his income to charity, while Mitt Romney donated 13.8% and Newt Gingrich gave 2.6%.
Tampa Bay Times: An Obama deficit thanks to Bush
Where were the bishops when Troy Davis died?
Not all doctrine is created equal.
On September 21, 2011, a man's life ended. His death was not natural; it was not a product of anyone's god; rather, the drug cocktails that caused the heart of Troy Davis to stop beating were purely the result of human artifice.

Davis was a convicted murderer who was put to death by the State of Georgia as punishment for the crimes of which he was found guilty. Like so many other death row inmates who were wrongly convicted of—and sometimes even executed for—crimes they did not commit, Troy Davis may well have been innocent. There was no physical evidence proving his crime, and many of the eywitnesses upon whom Davis' conviction depended later recanted their testimony, citing undue pressure from prosecutors to finger the person they had apparently already decided was responsible. In the end, however, whether or not Troy Davis was guilty or not is merely salt in the wound of a far bigger outrage.

The Catholic Church officially opposes capital punishment. This doctrine is in the same vein as those opposing abortion, birth control, and physician-assisted suicide: church doctrine dictates that life begins at conception and is a gift from God. Consequently, it is beyond the scope of any soul, no matter how high the earthly authority, to terminate a human life. It does not matter if it is legal, and it does not matter if the rationale is to relieve suffering: the taking of life is God's department, not ours.

Yet in the middle of September, as opposition to the impending execution of Troy Davis reached a fever pitch and a singular opportunity presented itself for the Church to not just call for an act of mercy, but support a key element of doctrine, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was silent as the grave. Yes, some local Catholic bishops in Georgia did support the conscience of their doctrine by calling for a reprieve, but the USCCB, the organization most responsible for lobbying and policy advocacy on behalf of the Holy See here in the United States, sat idly by. The execution of a possibly innocent man was not enough to stir the bishops into action. But birth control? That's a different story altogether.

The directive of President Obama's Health and Human Services Department that requires employers to cover the cost of contraceptive prescriptions was met with outrage by the USCCB. Never before, they argued, had citizens been forced to pay for things that violated their religious conscience. Not that the Church would have been forced to cover the cost of contraceptives: churches who objected receive an exemption under the directive. The Bishops even rejected a compromise that allowed women who work for affiliated organizations, such as nonprofits and hospitals, to obtain contraceptive coverage directly from an insurer, as opposed to through their employer. Apparently, preserving the "religious conscience" of an insurance company was ground that these bishops simply would not cede.

One could commend the bishops' commitment to principle if it were based on any sincerity. Unfortunately, that seems not to be the case. Our tax dollars subsidize executions in every state where they are conducted, as well as pay for the wars and occupations that offend a true Catholic conscience, yet these bishops will not lift a finger to stop the execution of one possibly innocent man, let alone work to prevent their believers from paying for these egregious violations of doctrine.

Yes, the hypocrisy is shameful, and it serves as yet another reminder that in this mean-spirited age, the only doctrines that conservatives deem worth standing up for are those that punish and impede, rather than those that demonstrate any inkling of compassion and mercy.


Uncyclopedia: Republican Jesus

Rates of teen pregnancy are higher in red states than blue states (try not to be shocked). Which begs the question: why on earth should we let the Red Team set contraception policy? All the evidence shows they suck at it.
"The Republican Party is extremely pro-woman" -Michele Bachmann on CNN


I'm glad she cleared that up, because the abortion bills, the vaginal probes, the war on birth control, the war on Planned Parenthood, the war against rape victims, and the war on WIC was giving me the wrong impression.


It's the hypocrisy, stupid.

Rising Republican star and well-known border hawk Sheriff Paul Babeu, who's now running for Congress in Arizona, was hit Friday night with bombshell accusations from a Mexican immigrant who said he dated the sheriff for years and was threatened with deportation if he ever told anyone about their romance.

The Phoenix New Times newspaper broke the story on its website in a piece written by veteran journalist Monica Alonzo. The accusations came complete with text messages said to be between the two men as well as compromising photos purportedly of Babeu that are reminiscent of recent sex scandals that ended the careers of Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Chris Lee.

In one photo, Babeu is seen posing in front of a mirror in nothing but his underwear. In another, he has his hand inside the man's partially unbuttoned shirt.

Also, regarding the photos on TPM. Once again, a scandal like this involves an idiot, a mirror and a camera phone. It's becoming the present-day equivalent of the shitty mugshot (see Nick Nolte, Rip Torn, etc).


Worse person in the world

CNN's Dana Loesch for this:

LOESCH: That's the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it's rape and so on and so forth. [...] There were individuals saying, "Oh what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that, the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?" What? Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.

Ignorant right-wing nonsense. It's almost too ridiculous to analyze, but Loesch's idea is this: if you get pregnant, it's okay for the government to insert a probe into your vagina. What if the pregnancy in question is the result of a rape in the first place? Not that it should matter how the pregnancy happened because it's not anyone's business, least of all Dana Loesch's, but it sounds like Loesch's suggestion is that once a woman has sex, she's fair game to have anything inserted into her vagina, including government probes. After all, she's already put something in there, so why not more things?

Via, there's this from Science Daily 
Earth's glaciers and ice caps outside of the regions of Greenland and Antarctica are shedding roughly 150 billion tons of ice annually, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The research effort is the first comprehensive satellite study of the contribution of the world's melting glaciers and ice caps to global sea level rise and indicates they are adding roughly 0.4 millimeters annually, said CU-Boulder physics Professor John Wahr, who helped lead the study. The measurements are important because the melting of the world's glaciers and ice caps, along with Greenland and Antarctica, pose the greatest threat to sea level increases in the future, Wahr said.
"This is the first time anyone has looked at all of the mass loss from all of Earth's glaciers and ice caps with GRACE," said Wahr. "The Earth is losing an incredible amount of ice to the oceans annually, and these new results will help us answer important questions in terms of both sea rise and how the planet's cold regions are responding to global change."
Of course, money has the last word, even in the face of this:

Click to big. More here (h/t Daily Kos)

Why is it legal for Sheriff Paul Babeu to engage in same-sex fornication in Arizona, but not same-sex marriage? 

Ian Millhiser at Think Progress:

Texas federal Judge Fred Biery is a key villain in GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's narrative about why federal judges are out of control and must be intimidated into submission. Gingrich routinely cites a previous decision by Biery holding that the Constitution does not permit a public school district to sponsor a student-led prayer at graduation to justify eliminating courts that displease Gingrich.

Fortunately, the actual parties to this lawsuit were not nearly as unreasonable as Mr. Gingrich, and they eventually agreed to settle the case after mediation. In his order approving the settlement, Biery includes an unusual "personal statement" directed at the many lawmakers who, like Gingrich, have painted him as some kind of enemy of religion:

To the United States Marshal Service and local police who have provided heightened security: Thank you.

To those Christians who have venomously and vomitously cursed the Court family and threatened bodily harm and assassination: In His name, I forgive you.

To those who have prayed for my death: Your prayers will someday be answered, as inevitably trumps probability.

To those in the executive and legislative branches of government who have demagogued this case for their own political goals: You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Biery also includes a clever dig and the many Christian right groups that have attacked him: "Any American can pray, silently or verbally, seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, in private as Jesus taught or in large public events as Mohammed instructed."

The Rude Pundit has more details and snark.


Bad enough we have to endure farmed salmon poisoned by mercury and antibiotics; genetically deformed is where I draw the line.

From Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, and Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm:

The FDA is on the brink of approving genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. This would be the first genetically engineered animal on supermarket shelves in the United States.

The salmon is engineered to produce growth hormones year-round that cause the fish to grow at twice the normal rate. The government already requires labels to tell us if fish is wild-caught or farm-raised-don't we also have a right to know if our salmon is genetically engineered? Without labels, we'll never know.

More than forty countries, including Russia and China, already require labels on genetically engineered foods. As Americans, we firmly believe that we deserve the same right to know what we are eating.

That's why I created a petition to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on, which says:

Commissioner Hamburg, we urge the FDA to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. We have a right to know about the food we eat and what we feed our families, but under current FDA regulations, we don't have that ability when it comes to genetically engineered foods.

Polls show that more than 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling. Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare. Please listen to the American public and mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Will you sign the petition? Click here to add your name, and then pass it along to your friends:

Click here to sign the petition.


-Eric Schlosser and Gary Hirshberg

Obama is looking for a new campaign slogan that would illustrate the difference between him and any of the choices in the republican field. Here's a suggestion:

No comments: